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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 26 May 1925

Vol. 11 No. 20


I move:—

In page 4 to add, at the end of Section 8, a new sub-section as follows:—

(3) So much of the said Section 9 of the Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1848, as authorises voting by proxy shall cease to have effect and voting under that section as amended by this section shall be in person only.

The question of voting by proxy was raised in Committee, and as a result, this amendment was introduced making it compulsory to vote in person.

Amendment agreed to.

I move:—

In page 8, Section 16 (3), line 6, to delete the word "licensed" and in line 7 to insert before the word "capture" the word "lawful."

When the Bill was in Committee an amendment was introduced which provided for the sale of brown trout by fishermen who have not taken out an angler's licence. This amendment was introduced to meet the point that was raised.

Amendment agreed to.

I move:—

In page 9, Section 21 (2), line 16, to delete the words "the Dublin Metropolitan Police or of."

Amendment agreed to.

I move:—

In page 10, Section 23 (1), line 27, to delete the words "the Dublin Metropolitan Police or."

Amendment agreed to.

took the Chair.

I move:—

In page 13, Section 27 (2), line 1, before the word "Every" to insert the words "Notwithstanding any appeal which may be pending but without prejudice to any order which may be made on such appeal."

The effect of the amendment is that bye-laws and regulations will come into force and are not to be held up because of the fact that an appeal is pending.

Amendment agreed to.

I move:—

In page 13 to add, at the end of Section 27, two new sub-sections as follows:—

(4) Any person aggrieved by a bye-law, definition, rule, regulation, or order made by the Minister under any of the powers transferred to him by this section may, within one fortnight after the publication of such bye-law, definition, rule, regulation, or order in the Iris Oifigiúil, appeal against the same in accordance with rules of court made under Part 1 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924 (No. 10 of 1924), to a court to be constituted for the purpose and to consist of one judge of the Supreme Court (who shall preside) nominated by the Chief Justice of the Irish Free State and two judges of the High Court nominated by the President of the High Court, and the Court so constituted shall have power to confirm or annul the bye-law, definition, rule, regulation, or order appealed against but without prejudice to the validity of anything done under or in pursuance of the bye-law, definition, rule, regulation, or order before the date of the order of the Court.

(5) Every order made by the said Court on an appeal under the foregoing sub-section shall be published and copies thereof shall be deposited in like manner as bye-laws made by the Minister under this section are required by this section to be published and deposited.

When the Bill was in Committee Deputy Cooper asked for the appointment of an Appeal Tribunal. I think the amendment provides what he asks for.

I agree that the Minister has met me perfectly fairly and that this is a satisfactory appeal tribunal. The amendment will, I think, restore all the rights enjoyed under former Acts and give a more effective appeal than to the Privy Council.

Amendment agreed to.

I move:—

In page 13, before Section 28, to insert a new section as follows:—

28.—All the powers of appointing water-bailiffs or other officers for the purposes of the Fisheries (Ireland) Acts, 1842 to 1909, vested in or exercisable by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland shall be transferred to, vested in, and exercisable by the Minister and shall cease to be exercisable by the said Department.

This was consequential on the setting up of the Ministry of Fisheries, and the necessary transfer of functions formerly performed by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction.

Now that these powers have been transferred to the Minister, I would like to ask him to provide some State protection for the brown trout fisheries. At present these fisheries receive practically no attention. There are in Westmeath the most celebrated trout lakes in Ireland. For the past four or five years thousands of trout going to the rivers to spawn have been taken away, put into barrels, and salted, to the great detriment of fishing. If even one bailiff was appointed for the three Spring months of the year to look after the brown trout fisheries, it would be a great advantage. The Civic Guard are doing their best to help, but if one bailiff was appointed, even in Westmeath, to look after brown trout, it would be a very good thing. There is a Fish Preservation Society in Westmeath. It endeavoured to get into touch with societies in other counties, but found that there were very few such organisations. I called attention to this matter last year, and I now make a strong appeal to the Minister to appoint a bailiff to look after the lakes and rivers, especially during the spawning season.

I want to take this opportunity to impress on the Government and the Ministers the necessity for giving the fisheries on rivers sufficient protection. On Sunday night last, I believe that Civic Guards from different barracks co-operated and made a number of raids on the Barrow, the Suir, and the Nore. I understand that fourteen or fifteen crews, with fishing gear, were captured, with, I believe, the assistance of the military. That is the only effective way of deal ing with this question. It shows also that it is useless to be depending on water-bailiffs. I suggested on a former occasion, that there should be men attached to the Civic Guard who are trained to deal with such work. If such men were available, they could assist in protecting fish on the lower reaches of the rivers during the spawning season. I do not believe any additional expense would be involved. If you had such a force you would have an effective machine, and protection afforded. I have no objection to the appointment of a certain number of bailiffs if they can be got, but if you have trained men attached to the Civic Guards the number of fish in the rivers can be very much increased. At present it is deplorable. I saw explosives used about ten days ago in a river, and I saw the fish coming to the top and floating around. Sometime afterwards I found hundreds of small fish lying there dead.

Where did they get the explosives?

Everybody in the country is now able to manufacture his own explosives. Bailiffs are of no use in detecting offences, and there will have to be a very widespread intelligence deplosives are doing an appalling amount of destruction, and they kill the young fish in such numbers that people will tell you they could take them out in shovels.

This section is merely to comply with the position created by the Ministers and Secretaries Act. We are to have the power of making bye-laws, and as a consequence, this should go in. Bailiffs are appointed by the boards of conservators, and under this Bill we have far greater powers than we had. We have power to see that the conservators appoint the proper type of bailiff. We have also the power to see that not alone the salmon fisheries but the brown trout and other fisheries are properly protected. We are providing the boards with better finances to enable them to supply the proper type of bailiff, and we hold the power to see that they do provide the proper type. I think that the ideas expressed by deputy Shaw and Deputy Gorey are covered in the Bill as a whole, and we hope that these matters will be looked after in the future by means of this measure.

Does the Minister recognise that the state of affairs depicted by Deputy Shaw and Deputy Gorey does exist? If so, that state of affairs would want to be grappled with straight away.

I get reports. I get exaggerated reports and others, and, with all due respect to Deputy Gorey and Deputy Shaw, I should say that they exaggerate the position.

If the Minister is content to feel like that, he can draw his salary and do nothing.

Amendment put, and agreed to.
New section ordered to be inserted in the Bill.

I beg to move:—

In page 14, Section 35, to delete sub-section (1) and substitute the following sub-section:—

"(1) Sub-section (2) of Section 9 of the Criminal Justice (Administration) Act, 1924 (No. 44 of 1924) shall not apply to any prosecution of an offence under any section of the Fisheries Act, 1924 (No. 6 of 1924) or this Act."

In plain English that means that that particular sub-section of the Criminal Justice (Administration) Act limits the right of prosecution to the Minister or the Attorney-General. The effect of the amendment is that every person will have the right to prosecute for an offence against the fishery law.

As Deputy Shaw and Deputy Gorey have already spoiled the Parliamentary Secretary's record for getting through amendments in the shortest possible time, I would like to ask what difference there is between this and my amendment, No. 9 which is in the English language, and which can be understood without reference? Will not mine carry precisely the same effect as his, and if so, is not mine somewhat plainer?

It is so very plain that probably a District Justice may not be able to interpret it.

Deputy Cooper raised this question on the Committee Stage, and I promised to put in something to meet his point. I consulted the draughtsman as to which was the better way of meeting his point, and I am advised that mine is the better.

I want to know whether there is any justification for this amendment. You are dealing with fishery laws which are peculiar, and certain authorities are set up with rather peculiar powers, and there are also special classes of offences. I question the wisdom of allowing anybody to prosecute in respect of any of these various offences. I think the original form is better, that somebody having responsibility should be the prosecutor, and not any person who might by chance think that his neighbour is offending. It seems to me that an officious person, who is a sportsman and who thinks that his sport is being spoiled, may be tempted to bring a prosecution, and, if he has money to spare, such prosecution might involve a poorer man in a lot of expense and trouble. There may be a margin between a malicious prosecution and one in which malice may be difficult to prove, but which may be malicious all the same. I think there should be more responsibility borne by the prosecutor than by simply allowing any person to prosecute. From the tone of the Minister's comment, I do not think that he is very keen about either of the amendments which are on the Order Paper dealing with this matter. I think the original arrangement was much better and sounder, and we ought not invite any person who thinks himself clever to undertake a prosecution under the fishery laws. That should be left to the proper authority. I will oppose the amendment, both that of Deputy Cooper and that proposed by Deputy Duggan.

I agree with what Deputy Johnson has said. I think the principle embodied in the amendment is very undesirable legislation. It seems to put it in the hands of a person in a district to make himself thoroughly offensive to his neighbours, and under the guise that, in being so, he is doing it for public policy. I think it is a bad principle to give a private individual the power to bring a prosecution. Prosecution as a prosecution is a State matter, and to say that a private individual can prosecute another man is wrong. I strongly support the objection to this amendment.

When Deputy Johnson and Deputy Hewat are agreed they are always wrong. Deputy Johnson has not the same excuse of ignorance in this matter as Deputy Hewat. This has been the law for ninety years, that any private individual can prosecute in a fishery case.

And, therefore, it can be presumed to be wrong.

As far as I know, there has been no complaint of officiousness and interference in the exercise of that right, or of upsetting the liberty of the subject. The whole fishery policy has been to make the ordinary individual feel that he has a responsibility in the preservation of fish, and of the fisheries as an asset to the State, and bringing money into the country, and that he should help towards this development so as to make it a valuable and lucrative thing for us. We ought to make every citizen feel that it is his duty to help in enforcing the fishery laws. I agree with Deputy O'Connell that they need remodelling. I did not oppose the amendment by Deputy Johnson that proxy voting should be abolished. But such as the laws are, they are entitled to receive the assistance of the people in their enforcement. I am not here to teach Deputy Hewat points of law.

I am always glad to get information from Deputy Cooper.

I believe it is the duty of every citizen to prevent felony. Though a prosecution for felony may be a matter for the State, every citizen ought to help. That principle is carried out in my amendment, or the Minister's. I am not pressing my amendment against the Minister's. If he prefers to have it in the terminology of the draughtsman rather than in the plain English of mine, I will not quarrel with him. I do not know if the Minister knows Shakespeare's play, "Measure for Measure." In that play there is a public executioner, and when it was suggested he should have an assistant who belonged to a different calling, he replied: "Fie, Sir, he will discredit our mystery." When a private member proposes an amendment the draughtsman replies: "Fie, Sir, this will discredit our mystery." I will accept the Minister's amendment as it achieves my object. If Deputy Johnson forces a division I shall have the pleasure of walking out in a division in which the níl votes will be taken by Deputy Johnson and Deputy Hewat, and that will be at least an experience.

I would ask the Minister to accept one or other of the amendments. If he tries to enforce the fisheries laws with a small staff under the board of conservators the results will be deplorable. As a matter of fact very few prosecutions take place, except those brought by servants of the board. If the right of prosecution is confined only to the servants of the board it would be making the fishery laws a farce. In fresh water districts it may happen that hundreds of miles are left to the supervision of two or three bailiffs, and it would be absurd to expect that they would be able to enforce the fishery laws. Even with the aid of the Civic Guards I do not think it could be done in many cases. Giving the right to prosecute to any person, might lead to abuse in some cases, although I have never known it to be abused. No one is going to make a nuisance of himself to his neighbours in this matter. Such a class of man does not exist in the country, but he may be found in the civilised regions of the suburbs of Dublin, where, if people hear a dog bark, they may bring a prosecution.

I agree with Deputy Cooper that we want to make the people generally feel that it is not only the responsibility of the officials appointed by the conservators to look after the fishery interests, but that it should be realised that they are a national asset, and something in which they are even personally concerned. We want to give these people the opportunity to exercise the spirit of good citizenship, and to bring a prosecution for an offence against the fishery laws. We are trying to do that in this section, and I stand over it.

Would the Minister say whether everyone of us should take the responsibility to prosecute a man for not carrying a light on his bicycle, for instance?

I am talking about the administration of the fishery laws.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 34; Níl, 6.

  • Pádraig Baxter.
  • Earnán de Blaghd.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Séamus de Búrca.
  • Bryan R. Cooper.
  • Máighréad Ní Choileain Bean
  • Uí Dhrisceóil.
  • Patrick J. Egan.
  • Thomas Hennessy.
  • Connor Hogan.
  • Liam Mac Cosgair.
  • Séamus Mac Cosgair.
  • Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
  • Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
  • Patrick McGilligan.
  • Risteárd Mac Liam.
  • Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
  • Liam Mac Sioghaird.
  • Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
  • Seán O Bruadair.
  • Parthalán O Conchubhair.
  • Máirtín O Conalláin.
  • Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
  • Séamus O Dóláin.
  • Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
  • Eamon O Dúgáin.
  • Seán O Duinnín.
  • Donnchadh O Guaire.
  • Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
  • Aindriú O Láimhín.
  • Séamus O Leadáin.
  • Fionán O Loingsigh.
  • Domhnall O Mocháin.
  • Seán O Súilleabháin.
  • Patrick W. Shaw.


  • William Hewat.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Tomás de Nógla.
  • Tomás O Conaill.
  • Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
  • Tadhg O Murchadha.
Tellers: Tá, Eamon O Dúgáin, Séamus O Dóláin. Níl, Tomás Mac Eoin, William Hewat.
Amendment declared carried.
Amendment 9 not moved (Deputy Cooper).
Question proposed:—"That the Bill as amended be received for final consideration."

Before the question is put I would like to ask the Minister if he has given consideration to the proposal moved on the Committee Stage in reference to Section 13. It was pointed out then that it appeared, from the section as drafted, that, when the board of conservators strike a fishery rate for a year, that the fisheries may be, or would be, exempted from liability for ten years from any county or county borough or urban district rate for the succeeding nine years as well as the year in question. The Minister promised to look into the matter, and, if he thought it necessary, to introduce an amendment so as to make it clear that the exemption would only apply for the period, shall I say, during which the fishery rate was levied. I would like to know whether the Minister has considered the matter, and if he has, what the result of that consideration has been.

I have looked into the matter, and I find that there is a certain amount of looseness in sub-section (6) of Section 13, to which Deputy Johnson referred on the Committee Stage. At the same time, we feel that that is covered by sub-section (4), where it is provided that if the board of conservators do not strike a rate, the Minister may strike a rate on or before the 28th February, in the fishery year. A difficulty arises in this way, that the fishery year and the ordinary financial year do not coincide. The fishery year starts on the 1st October, while the ordinary financial year starts on the 1st April. I looked into the matter with a view to tightening it up as far as possible. I was in consultation with a draughtsman. After reading over about six times the only amendment that he could produce, I confess that I could not really understand it. I want the Bill to be as clear as possible, so that the clerks to boards of conservators and others concerned may be able easily to grasp the meaning of the Act when it is in force. I had an amendment drafted with the object of meeting Deputy Johnson's point, but after looking into it carefully about half-a-dozen times, I thought it inadvisable to put it down on the Order Paper. I think, however, that his point is met sufficiently by sub-section (4). If the Deputy desires it, I could arrange that the suggested amendment which I did not put on the Order Paper for to-day could be introduced in the Seanad, but personally I do not think it is necessary.

I hope the Minister will consider this matter again between now and the date of the consideration of the Bill in the Seanad. I would point out to him that this power under sub-section (4) is only in respect to the striking of a fishery rate by the boards of conservators, and can only be used for fishery purposes, whereas the exemption for nine years is in respect to the right of a county borough or of a county council to strike a rate. It is the local authorities which would be the losers under the section as it stands. However, the Minister, I have no doubt, will consider the matter between now and the consideration of the Bill in the Seanad, and I leave it at that.

I undertake to do that.

Question—"That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Fifth Stage ordered for Friday, 29th May.